Rehabilitation for 3 weeks improves the walking capacity of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) who have moderate to severe walking disability, according to an exploratory, observational study published in PLoS One. However, it does not affect physical activity.  

“To increase physical activity, it may be necessary to add specific behavioral interventions to the rehabilitation program,” the researchers wrote. “The intervention plan should include strategies to overcome personal and environmental barriers.”

Patients with MS had reduced physical activity, which can be associated with cardiovascular disease, poor walking ability, and lower quality of life. 


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To assess the effect of rehabilitation on the daily physical activity and walking ability of patients with MS with moderate to severe walking disability, a team of researchers led by Roman Rudolf Gonzenbach, MD, PhD, from the Rehabilitation Centre in Valens, Switzerland, conducted a study in 24 patients with MS.

Read more about the comorbidities of MS

The researchers assessed the patients’ daily physical activity, walking capacity, and degree of fatigue. They repeated this after a 3-week rehabilitation program, which included half an hour to an hour of physiotherapy 5 times a week, 30 to 45 minutes of strength and endurance training 3 to 5 times a week, half an hour of occupational therapy 2 to 3 times a week, and half an hour of neuropsychological training twice a week.

The results showed that the rehabilitation program did not affect the daily physical activity of the patients. However, it significantly improved their walking capacity and mobility as assessed by the 2-minute walk test and the Timed Up and Go test, respectively. It also significantly improved motor and cognitive fatigue.

More research is needed to assess the effect of adding goal-directed behavioral interventions to the rehabilitation program on patients’ physical activity, the study authors concluded.

Reference

Kuendig S, Kool J, Polhemus A, Schallert W, Bansi J, Gonzenbach RR. Three weeks of rehabilitation improves walking capacity but not daily physical activity in patients with multiple sclerosis with moderate to severe walking disability. PLoS One. 2022;19;17(9):e0274348. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0274348